We went to Button Rock Preserve on Sunday afternoon–my husband Jay and I and, of course, Olive, our Chesapeake Bay and Labrador retriever mix puppy. We had been getting into our regular Sunday routine of prepping for the start of a busy week. Jay mentioned on a whim that we should go for a hike. I thought of all the work I had to do, with the classes I teach just getting underway, but I stopped myself. Olive needed a walk, and Jay and I needed some time to hang out together.
We loaded Olive into the car and headed up the canyon a short way to the turn-off at Longmont Dam Road. The parking area at Button Rock was packed with cars. It was warm, and the sun emerged from behind clouds here and there along the way, so it was understandable that lots of people were enjoying an afternoon outdoors.
Hiking with Jay at Button Rock isn’t so much hiking as it is walking a bit and then stopping to slip down to the riverbank so he can toss a few casts with his fly rod. For our old dog, Butch, who accompanied us on hikes, this routine was enough. He had the wisdom and patience that comes with dog years. We could hang out. I could find something to sit on and make a quick sketch of the river, some rocks, or a tree.
For Olive, there is still some learning to do, and waiting for Jay to make a few casts was more than her giddy puppy energy could handle. There is no sitting and sketching with Olive. She is likely to grab the sketchbook from me and tear it apart.
I walked back up to the road and kept moving, knowing Jay would catch up. It was a good walk for all of us. We didn’t go far. We didn’t get to the reservoir or the dam. We just needed to get our legs moving.
This wasn’t the first hike at Button Rock for Olive. Her first official hike was longer and just a bit snowier. Back before New Year’s Day, I had promised our son, Josh, a hike. He was visiting from San Diego for the holidays. He’s one of those adventurous types who surfs and who really wants to do a 14er, but this time he had to settle for the calm, easy, more-my-speed Button Rock. Our daughter Kiki’s boyfriend, Kyle, was in town from Connecticut as well, so it was me, Olive, and the boys at Button Rock on that particular day. Kiki was born with a rare form of dwarfism that prevents her from being able to walk a long way, and she didn’t feel like getting out on her scooter in the cold to join us.
On that day, there were only a handful of cars, and we walked the path up to the reservoir. We had not made it up to the reservoir before, so it was a first for me. It was a sunny day, maybe sunnier than this past Sunday. The reservoir was calm and glassy. After the busy holidays, it was the dose of quiet I needed.
Olive kept her nose to the ground throughout much of it. It’s the way she takes in the world, like other dogs. Unlike most other dogs, though, it truly is how she sees the world, because she is mostly blind. The long walks are good for her. We were told she is a mix of Chesapeake Bay and Labrador retrievers, and based on what I have read about the temperament of Chesapeakes, she fits, with her stubbornness and her need to be entertained. Or it could just be that she is a puppy.
I think Josh and Kyle enjoyed themselves. It wasn’t the adventurous hike that Josh might have preferred, but we did find the narrow path above the dam. Josh was the first to say we should take it. It was as close as we could get on that day to the adventure he was craving. What I didn’t anticipate as the three of us and Olive were making our way down was that Olive’s lack of sight would make it difficult for her to get down some of the big steps. In fact, at one point she went into full Chesapeake mode and flat-out refused to go further. Josh had to pick her up and carry her a good halfway down the path. We’ll have to work on that a bit.
Once we were down at the road by the dam, Olive was fine, and we made our way back easily. It was here that I realized a couple of things: how lucky I am to live here, and how lucky I am to have been there at all with my son. I’ll leave it at that.
Olive is getting used to hiking now, or mild hiking anyway. That’s all I really do. We’ll get back to Button Rock soon and maybe some other dog-friendly paths. Until then, we’ll be wandering around Lyons, the way we do just about every day.